The media just love to write up screw ups as privacy breaches now.
The Ministry of Education is the latest Government department to admit to a privacy breach. Read more »
The media just love to write up screw ups as privacy breaches now.
The Ministry of Education is the latest Government department to admit to a privacy breach. Read more »
Readers might remember a school called Dalefield School because its principal Kevin Jephson has featured in posts on the blog about National Standards. He was a very vocal opponent of them.
Regular readers will be aware of a nasty little Wairarapa principal called Kevin Jephson.
His style is to slag off the Government, National Standards and Anne Tolley to his local papers – which dutifully print every word, without wondering why he would be so critical.
Well, now we know.
Yet again, brave, plucky little Kevin is getting in the first blow against the big bad Government by going public with his school’s National Standards results – apparently instead of him and his teachers being responsible for poor standards at his school it is the government’s fault because they measured him and found him wanting.
But this usual smokescreen won’t hide the tragic facts for kids and parents at his school.
These results are shocking. That’s why the MoE wants to give them help.
The teacher unions are kicking up a stink because of ongoing problems with Novopay…of course they have never been happy with even the previous provider.
Check this press release from the NZPF in February 2008:
The New Zealand Principals’ Federation has criticised the Ministry of Education, following major payroll errors which have created a bureaucratic nightmare across the country.
Datacom is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide payroll services to more than 80,000 New Zealand teachers. The latest payroll round – the first of the school term – is filled with errors, says NZPF President Paddy Ford.
Glorified Auckland University employed drama teacher Peter O’Connor has an absolutely unsupported rant and gets it published by the NZ Herald. Once again an “educator” lowers the bar for himself (and the Herald doesn’t set a bar) by producing a piece that no teacher worth a dime would accept.
From his bio:
Associate Professor O’Connor is an internationally recognised expert in applied theatre. His research has focused primarily on using applied theatre as a public education medium to address major social issues including public health, gender equity in schools and the development of inclusive, empathetic and critical school cultures.
Here are examples of his nonsense:
“2013 will see a continuation and escalation of an ideological war over the heart and soul of schooling in this country.”
The truth – parents just want their kids to get a good education and New Zealanders are realizing that O’Connor and the other Leftist control freaks don’t want to lose their patch.
“This year’s all-out attack on public education by the Government”
The truth – in general the government just wants kids to learn well and their crime (for the likes of O’Connor) is to aim at helping the kids in the failure cycle – i.e. those that give Labour the opportunity for power and keep the Left going with their causes.
“Teacher groups and principals who have fought to defend the progressive ideology that created a world-class education system”
The truth – an education system that systematically sees certain groups fail (e.g. Maori being 20% behind non-Maori at Level 2 NCEA) and that recent studies show to be in relative decline is not world-class.
Why are people like O’Connor satisfied with the level of failure? Why is it in his interests to keep Maori, Pacific Islanders and those in lower SES situations failing?
“It will be the beginning of industrial turmoil in schools at a level the country has never seen before.”
The truth – O’Connor – the drama queen – clearly happy to see unions looking to screw up the learning of another generation through industrial action.
“I have travelled and spoken frequently to teacher groups throughout the country over recent months.”
The truth – taxpayer funded insurrection. Is this what people want their taxes spent on? Then again – it is other people’s money so he has the right to spend it this way.
“In more than 30 years in the sector I have never seen teachers so angry, so frustrated, so suspicious and so despairing of the Ministry of Education, its minister and its secretary.”
The truth – time to get a job out of the trough and get out more. Those that are angry and frustrated need to go and flip burgers or actually realize that teaching kids is a privilege and being taxpayer funded to do so under elected representatives is called a democracy.
“The neo liberal assault on public education comes in many guises.”
The truth – as above – the government actually wants kids to learn and is willing to look for models that suit the kids that the one size fits all union controlled system (with its angry and frustrated teachers) doesn’t.
“Good teachers do create miracles in their classrooms on a daily basis”
The truth – I know some good teachers but none of them have claimed to be God.
“but hungry, cold and sick children from deeply impoverished and despairing communities do not make ready learners.”
The truth – he clearly knows parents aren’t responsible for feeding their children – this is all the government’s fault.
“National standards have slowly strangled what was considered a world-class curriculum.”
The truth – parents, on the whole, support National Standards and it is their children they pay taxes to have educated. O’Connor knows better though and they should listen to him.
“Science, the arts, physical education and social studies have all been casualties of the relentless and tiresome pursuit of meaningless literacy and numeracy goals.”
The truth – O’Connor is an amazing semi-intellectual hypocrite. The unions have banged on about New Zealand’s education system being “world class” based on Maths and Literacy. Now goals in that area are “meaningless” – I mean – why would you want every child in NZ to do Maths well and read and write? Could it be that they would then be able to see through the fatuous arguments of people like O’Connor.
“Everything else is rapidly disappearing from our schools.”
The truth – this crap statement is almost not worth commenting on…. “everything else is rapidly disappearing” – Mr O’Connor is revealing here that his real concern is his own pocket and his in school drama consulting team (are they registered teachers?). But I would have thought it wrong for someone who is against Charter Schools to profit from education?
“The richness of the legacy of Clarence Beeby and Peter Fraser in creating an education system based on the ideals of equity, creativity and democratic citizenship is replaced by the sterility of market imperatives of preparing compliant workers.”
The truth – here he simply has no idea. The world has moved and O’Connor has stood still. The system he advocates supplies the dole queue and the lower paid jobs. He advocates an education system designed for the industrial revolution that now keeps certain groups poor and in a failure cycle.
“Charter schools, the costly and far right experiment to be conducted in secrecy next year, is the trojan horse designed to open up the sector for further deregulation and privatisation.”
The truth – Charter schools are fiscally neutral (and he knows it – i.e. lying through his dramatic teeth) and advocated in many places by people on the left of the spectrum – e.g. the Obama government. But O’Connor and his ilk will say anything to protect their patch here in New Zealand where people might not really think it through if they others shout loud enough.
“This will be amid a continuing tirade about the failure of teachers, and the failure of communities made up largely of Maori and Pasifika and poor people in general.”
The truth – O’Connor simply advocates we hide those realities – after all we are “world class”.
“In the coming educational wars parents will need to rest over the holidays and then decide who they trust and whose side they are on.”
The truth – “educational wars” – what a waste of two words. How idiotic. And good parents won’t take a rest during the holidays – they will be out and about with their kids as much as they can because most of them love their kids but they will also be working (when Mr O’Connor is on holiday) to earn the tax to keep drama queens employed in places like Auckland University. O’Connor won’t take a full rest though – he will continue to look for opportunities for self-aggrandisement opportunities at the expense of NZ kids and families.
Surprise surprise, Labour’s Education sector wing the NZEI has come out in support of Labour’s education policy to feed other peoples kids and fix the problem their members have caused with reading recovery programmes:
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says Labour’s education policy is comprehensive and promotes high quality education for all children.
It shows a major commitment to quality early childhood education by promising to restore funding cuts to more than 2000 services nationwide, reinstate the target of 100% qualified teachers, retain existing subsidies and fee controls for 20 hours ECE, as well as develop planned public ECE provision.
NZEI President Ian Leckie says that will help boost participation levels and be welcomed by those services and parents who have been hit hard by government funding cuts.
Labour’s policy also places some welcome importance on the role and value of school support staff by promising to provide them with training and it says it will work on the viability of centrally funding their positions.
That is in line with a recent report by NZEI, the Ministry of Education and the School Trustees Association which recommends that school leaders integrate support staff more effectively into teaching teams and provide more training. NZEI has also long argued that funding school support staff through school operations grants is flawed and needs to change.
“It is great to see Labour listening and taking on board some of those issues and reflecting them in their policy,” Mr Leckie says.
Of course they are listening, the NZEI probably wrote the policy.
Meanwhile David Shearer and Labour have conceded on National Standards:
“We’re not going to unpick it but certainly, I don’t think national standards is the silver bullet that this Government has been talking about.”
Parents would decide whether national standards remained at a school, not teachers, he said. “Ultimately, it’s the school board that will make the decision.”
And good to know that Labour supports the union position of rewarding mediocrity:
He also scotched suggestions Labour may move toward performance pay for teachers.
“I’m against performance pay. Our school system works really well because it’s co-operative. Teachers share resources, they share good practice, and they share ideas.
“If you put in a competitive model, teachers end up holding that to themselves.”
Riiight, spoken like a lifetime bureaucrat who has never worked in the real world.
National should stop cuddling up to the teacher unions and go to war with them. The unions sure as hell are going to war with National.
National Standards are progressing well. According to an email sent to schools today and coinciding with Hekia Parata’s press statement it looks like they are moving sensibly despite the moaning of the teacher unions.
[T]he Ministry of Education is not publishing a composite table of this year’s results. What we intend to publish is the achievement information you have provided to us via your annual report, exactly as you provided it. The information will be published as an addition to the ‘Find a School’ web pages on the Ministry’s Education Counts website. Under each school page there will be a Tab entitled ‘National Standards’ which will have an exact copy of the achievement data as supplied by the school. Alongside this there will be a link to the school’s most recent ERO report and to your complete annual report.
In order to enhance the quality and usefulness of the data, we will need to make improvements over the next few years. As a first step, we will make three changes for 2013 which will be gazetted shortly:
- There will be a standardised format for reporting the data
- The format, will include reporting by year level, for schools with learners in Years 1-8
- The data will need to be submitted, alongside charters, on 1 March.
Good move….standardised report templates so the teacher unions can’t try and obscure their data.
Parents are going to welcome this, along with the extra national standards information being made available on the Find a School website.
Lance is normally left of centre in his thinking but in his post he tears apart the very wonky thinking of 107 academics….they will of course probably sneer that he isn’t peer reviewed and not a teacher so he should STFU. Have read, he makes very good sense unlike the first commenter Ben Gracewood who thinks that buckets of money should be poured into education even though we know that little discernible progress has been made on the long brown tail despite millions of extra funding.
Basically Lance is saying what gets measured gets done…a point lost on most, and especially teachers:
A group of academics signed off on a letter against school league tables. The stated logic may work in an academic research setting but is inappropriate to apply to the real world. We should instead publish the measurements, improve the measurements and their context over time and, most importantly, focus energy and resources on understanding the issues and helping the schools at the bottom of the league.
That is perfectly logical…as one would expect for a tech-head. Now to the details:
1. National Standards data are unsuitable for comparing schools The performance of schools cannot meaningfully be compared with each other unless it can be demonstrated that assessment measures, processes and moderation have been used consistently across schools.
[T]o improve something we first need to measure it, and if we can’t measure it accurately then an approximation will do. In business that means using surveys of customers that have clear sampling bias, reacting more to customers who complain and even believing what we read in the papers. We know all of these sources are incomplete and have bias, but we can account for it somewhat, and are much improved by using the input. The online advertising industry is a lovely example, using a system for measurement that is clearly wrong to measure traffic, but while it is wrong, it is wrong for everyone, and it’s only the starting point for a conversation.
The academics and teachers don;t want that conversation they are simply saying that we shouldn’t have it at all.
2. The contextualising data are incomplete
Many elements of the school’s local community context affect teaching and learning processes and children’s achievement. These include socio-economic and other intake differences (such as ethnicity, student transience rates, the proportion of English language learners or children with special needs) and other school and area characteristics (local labour market, urban/rural location, popularity compared to surrounding schools).
There are also internal school contexts, such as past leadership or reputational issues, significant staffing changes or schools being damaged.
Many attempts at comparing school performance do not even try to use the best available statistical methodologies. Instead the school decile rating is typically used as a proxy for all these contextual indicators.
[W]e need to start somewhere, to create a minimum viable product and steadily improve it over time. While many criticized the early versions of iPhone, Xero and even Powershop, the steady improvement in functionality and usability were what won consumers over time. It’s the same with a measurement system that relies on a variety of data. Some of the early data will be wrong, and some of the things measured will be missing, but we should accept that and move to steadily improve the quality and context over time. If we don’t have the right socioeconomic data, for example, then someone will find it and mash it up with the National Standards data. The 107 academics are ideally placed to perform this work.
The reference source of information on schools will be the website (no doubt) that combines the highest quality information in a way that is meaningful to parents, teachers and students. Releasing the data in an open form is the first step towards creating complete school reports across a broad spectrum of facets.
I understand the natural academic reluctance to never release data that is potentially wrong, and I see that in business sometimes where companies do not want to release an imperfect product. But while they are polishing the bezels yet again competitors are releasing their inferior but higher selling versions. Similarly we should release the data, and call on the power of academics, hundreds of thousands of parents and even students to provide both sunlight as a disinfectant and the right context.
Except we can’t use those academics because they have now introduced bias into their work. They have pre-determined the outcome of anything they touch…they are actually tainted.
4. The political argument for league tables is weak
The argument that the Ministry of Education should release league tables in order to prevent the media doing so, does not address the problems that their effects will be damaging and the data used to compile the tables will be incomplete.
A long piece containing several arguments about why releasing the data is bad.
However while it might be considered bad by the academics, it is not by myself, and more pertinently, at least some parents. While even a small minority, and this is not a small minority, wants access to our data, New Zealand has a policy and obligation to provide it. Arguing against releasing data is quite remarkable for a group of academics. It should be easier to understand school performance than to read about individual student’s private lives on Facebook.
I would suggest that the numbers of people actually wanting the data is measured in the thousands…as in thousands upon thousands of parents with children in school. Why on earth do teachers and academic resume to pretend they know better for our own children.
In particular, the moral principle of social justice demands that the situation of the most disadvantaged in our society should not be made worse through the release of official information.
[T]he moral principle of social justice demands that the situation of the most disadvantaged in our society be identified and fixed, and not hidden from public view. We can fix these broken schools, and we don’t have to look further than Wellington High or Pt England to find great examples.
I am somewhat dismayed at the attitude of the educators, although I do understand their reluctance to release what is seen as incomplete data from an academic study perspective.
From a society perspective there is at least some demonstrated demand from parents.
From a business perspective there are a number of businesses and individuals who would love to mash this data up to create something new and useful.
But, most of all, from an educational perspective, releasing the data as a league table will allow us all to ask the hard questions of everyone involved – how are we going to help the schools at the bottom?
That is the key…not a single teacher or academic has even the slightest idea about how to address the long brown tail or the 20% of kids the current much vaunted “world-class” system is failing those kids. Instead they know, implacably that Charter Schools, League Tables and National Standards must be opposed with every breath in their bodies. They should be ignored until they demonstrate how they are going to solve the tail.
John Key says the National Standards data is ropey…so what…fix it and fix it fast and get it out there in league tables. Unless you set the required standards and expectations the data is always going to be ropey because the teacher unions will ensure it remains ropey:
National standards data provided by schools is too “ropey” to show parents how well a school is doing in reading, writing and maths and may not be released this year, the Prime Minister says.
Data the Ministry of Education had received from schools was “patchy”, making it difficult to create anything coherent for parents and needed more time, John Key said at a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday.
“This year, I think the data will be too ropey,” he said.
The National Government introduced the national standards policy during its first term in office.
Mr Key said the Minister of Education told him data was not up to scratch – “it’s extremely patchy and in different formats and that will make it very difficult to interpret – but over time the Government hopes it will be more consistent because the purpose of having information is to give parents a better sense of how their school is performing”.
Back on March 6 I blogged about the dysfunctional decile 10 school o the North Shore. All sorts of lefties commented and thought that the school was doing just fine.
Clearly the Ministry of Education didn’t think so. It has moved to place the school under statutory management.
Education authorities have parachuted in a statutory manager to sort out rifts at a top primary school.
A damning Education Review Office report about Chelsea Primary in Chatswood on the North Shore listed “poor relationships” and “disharmony” between board members as one of the problems.
Limited statutory manager Roween Higgie was introduced to the staff of the decile 10 school by the Ministry of Education on Friday.
She says she will work with the school, trustees and the community to sort out the issues raised by the report.
Higgie sent a letter to parents on Wednesday explaining her role. She will spend four to six weeks developing a picture of what has happened and getting to know people, before developing an action plan.
She says she could be at the school for a year or longer.
Guest Post from a Concerned Hamilton resident
The Waikato Times was good enough to advise us that there are $6M of empty classrooms sitting empty in the region. The process for selling them off is ridiculously long, and some upkeep is still necessary. Urban drift is the major factor in these schools being empty but an unwieldly and disconnected Ministry of Education is causing havoc in the region.
The Waikato/BOP regional office of the Ministry of Education has done a woeful job overseeing property and funding in recent years:
There are worthy projects that are falling by the wayside thanks to the fumbling efforts of the Ministry.
Take the Hamilton North High School project as an example:
Population growth in the North East of Hamilton has been huge. Anyone taking the 1B from Taupiri to Hamilton will now see an ocean of new housing. There are at least four feeder schools for a new high school and the Ministry and City Council have set down plans for an additional primary school in Sylvester. The new housing growth slowed in 2010 but has lifted significantly in the last eighteen months according to Hamilton City Council. The figures suggest a new high school can be built, but the politics of the Ministry have been in the way.
Due to lack of high school in the area most parents of high school age children send their children to a public single-sex high school in the city or to one of the private high schools further afield. It isn’t unknown for parents to mortgage their house to meet the education needs of their children.
The Ministry argues that a public high school exists closer for these parents. That high school is Fairfield College. A school that has been run under Commissioner for a number of years and only just got a Board of Trustees again, a Limited Statutory Manager and a new Principal. You’d understand if it’s going to take some time for parents in the North Eastern suburbs to have trust in that school, especially when you view the ERO reports.
This is Fairfield college:
The Ministry is ultimately concerned about ‘white flight’ from Fairfield to a new Rototuna based high school. The Ministry is not concerned about the safe and appropriate education of children; the latest ERO report for Fairfield was appalling. The Ministry also knows that as soon as there is a commitment for the building process that house building in the area will sky rocket – I’m sure the developers are also hoping for that.
On top of all that the Ministry is quick to say due to budgetary pressures from leaky school buildings that schools like the one in Rototuna can’t get built.
When will operational departments like the Ministry of Education take some responsibility rather bumble and fumble their way along, using up our tax payer dollars in the process? And, I won’t even mention school vouchers…